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HOA Disputes: What’s The Proper Way To Handle These?

HOA disputes are a common occurrence in planned communities. Neighbors will often butt heads over many different things. Sometimes, homeowners will even fight with the HOA board members. HOAS need to know how to handle these disputes the right way.

 

Internal Process: HOA Dispute Resolution Policy

In many communities, the governing documents, such as the bylaws, CC&Rs, and rules and regulations, may outline procedures for an HOA’s internal process for disputes. For example, the method may include an informal meeting between the homeowner and the HOA board. In HOA neighbor disputes, the board often acts as an intermediary.

In addition, some states have legislation that includes processes to resolve an HOA dispute. For instance, California’s Civil Code Section 5930 contains anti-lawsuit legislation. It requires HOAs and their members to undergo alternative dispute resolution measures before engaging in litigation. Indiana also has a new HOA statute, HEA 1286, that requires homeowners and HOAs to pursue a formal grievance process. The parties can only file lawsuits if the formal process is unsuccessful. When these provisions exist, HOAs must include them in their internal policy for resolving HOA disputes.

Unfortunately, not all governing documents and HOAs have internal dispute resolution policies. In such cases, adopting one in case conflict arises would be better. Here is a general HOA dispute resolution guideline communities can adopt.

 

1. Receiving Complaints or Appeals for Dispute Resolution

The process often begins when the board receives a written request for dispute resolution or HOA intervention. If the board receives a verbal complaint, they may choose to document it to keep a record of all the events. HOA board members can also require the members to submit requests in writing to formalize the process and ensure a record of all disputes.

 

2. Finding the Facts

HOA ArbitrationThe HOA board should assign someone to investigate the complaints received. This person may be a board member or other volunteer. If the dispute is between a homeowner and the HOA board, the person assigned should be a neutral third party to avoid conflicts of interest. They can appoint the HOA manager or even the homeowner association attorney.

Regardless, this person’s job will be gathering information about the dispute. It should be done promptly so the issue resolves quickly. The person in charge can do this by interviewing the two parties involved in the dispute. They can also collect information from other sources like event witnesses or CCTV footage, if necessary. Moreover, they should document and sort all the files so the board can review them properly.

 

3. Deciding Whether to Intervene

The board should arrange a meeting where the person appointed will present all the information they acquired. During the meeting, the board can decide whether it needs formal intervention from the HOA. A lawyer for HOA dispute resolution can also attend to provide legal counsel.

After the review, the board will provide a written notice of their decision. For example, they may write a violation notice to the offending homeowner. This notice may include a warning, fines, or restrictions of rights and privileges.

The decision may be left to a neutral third party if the dispute is between the board and a homeowner. Again, this can be the HOA dispute attorney or HOA management company. This person can offer an unbiased resolution that considers both sides. Likewise, they can write this at the end of the meeting.

 

4. Negotiation

Some HOA disputes need more careful attention. In these cases, the board can meet with the parties involved to hear all sides of the story. They can also present any remedies they might consider to the affected homeowners.

The board needs to remain neutral and objective during these negotiations. The goal must be to resolve the dispute. Ideally, all parties will agree at the end, which the board will put into writing. The neighbors can sign this agreement to acknowledge their consent.

 

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Homeowners association disputes may not always end with a simple negotiation. When the internal process fails, it may be time to use Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). This allows the HOA to resolve an issue with outside help.

 

hoa MediationMediation

The first ADR the association can consider is mediation. This involves a third party that listens to both sides of the story. They will mediate, assisting both parties in finding a compromise. However, the mediator cannot force either side to resolve the dispute. The parties must come to a resolution together.

 

Arbitration

In arbitration, the third party also listens to both sides of the story. They can review the arguments and evidence either side presents. However, unlike mediation, the arbiter decides how to resolve the dispute. If the arbitration is mandatory, the arbiter’s decision is often final. The parties cannot take the dispute further and file a lawsuit just because they dislike the decision.

 

Dispute Resolution via Litigation

ADR mechanisms exist to prevent HOA disputes from escalating and being brought to court. However, there are times when this does happen within the HOA community. Homeowners may sue their neighbors, or the litigation may be between the homeowners and the HOA board.

In these cases, the court examines the evidence and decides the resolution. They may order specific performance so the homeowner will abide by the rule laid out. The court may also impose injunctions wherein the HOA cannot engage in a specific activity.

While litigation may be effective at resolving disputes once and for all, they are generally not ideal for anyone involved. That’s because lawsuits are long, tiring, and expensive. Hence, litigation must be a last resort for resolving HOA disputes.

 

Promoting Community Harmony

HOA disputes are inevitable in many homeowners association communities. Wherever people gather, there will always be disagreements and conflicts. It’s up to the HOA to resolve these disputes fairly and in a timely manner. The board should always prioritize community harmony, justice, and peace.

HOA disputes arise for several reasons, including mismanagement of the community. That’s why homeowners associations can benefit from using dedicated HOA management software like Condo Manager. Contact us online or call us now at (800) 626-1267 to find out more!

 

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HOA Work Orders: The Best Ways To Handle And Manage Them

HOA work orders are a vital part of managing a community. They help the association ensure that all maintenance work is completed. As a result, the HOA can remain in good condition.

 

What Are HOA Work Orders?

Homeowners associations need to maintain the community’s common areas to keep property values high. This also ensures that the HOA’s members are satisfied with the association. But, managing maintenance can be a difficult task. There is a lot of work to be done, especially for larger communities.

This is where work orders come in. An HOA work order is a formal request for repair, operations, or maintenance work the association needs. It initiates the repairs or maintenance task and clarifies the details of the job.

A work order includes all the information related to the task requested and outlines the process. Moreover, it includes other details such as the requester’s name, the authorizer’s name, the assignee, and deliverables. It may also include drawings, special instructions, and the expected end results.

 

HOA Work Orders vs Service Requests

Homeowners association work orders are different from service requests. Some management companies and HOAs may use the terms interchangeably but differ in purpose and format. Service requests are simply forms or requests submitted by residents. They submit the service request to the HOA so the board or management company can fix the problem.

Meanwhile, HOA work orders are generated by the HOA manager or an officer responsible for overseeing maintenance. They create the work order only after approving the service request sent by the homeowner. The work order may also need approval from the HOA board before the work can begin.

 

Why Is HOA Work Order Management Important?

handling hoa work order requestsHOA work order management is an essential part of running a homeowners association. That’s because dozens or even hundreds of service requests and work orders can come in at a time. Without a proper system, the HOA or management company can easily be overloaded with too many maintenance jobs.

In addition, proper work order management helps the HOA keep track of all the maintenance jobs that have been completed or are currently in progress. This helps uncover problem areas in community property. For example, if there have been too many recent work orders involving the piping system, it may be a sign of a larger issue. The community may need to use its reserve funds to replace its piping system or other infrastructure to minimize long-term costs.

Managing work orders is vital to preserving property value and upholding the association’s reputation. After all, the HOA is in charge of the community’s upkeep. Without proper work order organization, it may be hard to fulfill all the service requests promptly. This can leave the community in disarray and disrepair.

 

What to Include In a Work Order

A good work order for HOAs must include all the important details involving the maintenance task. Homeowners associations and HOA management companies must include the following information:

  • Order number
  • Who benefits from the job
  • Vendor, contractor, or personnel in charge of completing the task
  • Authorizer
  • Job location
  • Approval date
  • Date of the order’s issuance
  • Expected start and end dates
  • Terms of service
  • Maintenance task description
  • Hourly rates for the task
  • Required materials
  • Cost of materials
  • Total cost

Adding all this information helps reduce misunderstandings between the contractor and HOA. It also ensures that both parties can clearly understand what the job entails and how much it costs. Moreover, they can anticipate the job’s length and schedule each task accordingly. This allows the association to maintain the community without too many jobs conflicting or coinciding.

 

How to Manage HOA Work Orders

Handling HOA work order requests is no easy feat. It’s important to have an efficient system in place to keep things organized.

 

1. Easy Request Process

A good HOA work order system begins with an easy request process. Service request forms should be easily accessible to all residents. Moreover, the request forms should be easy to understand and fill out. Ideally, the residents should also be able to track their service requests to know when the HOA will complete the job.

Make sure to assign an officer or board member to oversee service requests. This allows the community to approve or disapprove requests much faster. It minimizes backlogs and ensures the community is always on top of all the necessary maintenance jobs.

 

2. Create a Complete HOA Work Order Form

After receiving the service request, the HOA must create a complete work order form that includes all relevant information. Make sure the form is as detailed as possible. The work order should also include photos of the problem areas to help the association and its vendors understand what needs to be fixed. Moreover, the residents should be able to access the work order to fully understand what the request entails.

If the association can afford it, they may automate work orders to speed up the process. Reliable software can easily turn service requests into HOA work orders. This allows the community to streamline the entire process. It’s also more manageable and trackable as HOAs can quickly refer to the system to find all the work orders created.

 

3. Have a List of Vendors Ready

Homeowners associations should have an updated list of vetted contractors and vendors at the ready. Furthermore, they can hire on-site maintenance staff to address smaller maintenance jobs. This allows the HOA to assign each job without delay. It also ensures that the work is always up to standard.

 

4. Receive Feedback

After each maintenance job is completed, consider allowing residents to submit a feedback form. This allows the HOA to understand what is working and what needs to be improved in their work order management process. It also ensures transparency and helps residents trust the association more.

 

5. Conduct Regular Inspections

hoa vendor managementHomeowners associations should conduct regular inspections of community property. This limits the number of service requests that come in and keeps maintenance work to a minimum. It can also save money in the long run.

Consider scheduling inspections at least twice a month. The community may also need to conduct frequent inspections for fixtures or properties more prone to degradation or damage. For example, older buildings may need more attention than newly built structures.

 

Keep Your HOA In Good Condition

Managing HOA work orders is the key to keeping the community well-maintained. Otherwise, the association may easily fall into chaos with too many service requests or unclear job descriptions. Proper work order management can also ensure that the community’s maintenance requests are fulfilled in a timely manner.

However, managing HOA work orders manually can be challenging, especially for larger communities. Condo Manager can help. Our HOA management software can automate and streamline your work orders and the entire maintenance process. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online today!

 

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HOA Violation Process: What’s The Right Way To Handle HOA Violations?

The HOA violation process is among the most challenging parts of managing a community. HOA managers and board members have a duty to enforce rules and promptly handle violations. But, they must also be careful to follow due process to keep things fair and avoid liability.

 

HOA Violation Process

The HOA violation process can be tricky to get right. But, there is a proper procedure for handling offenses made by community members. Here is how to handle HOA violations the right way.

 

1. Check the Governing Documents

When someone makes a violation report against a resident, it’s best to check the governing documents first. Thoroughly review all the rules in the CC&Rs or bylaws to verify the violation’s legitimacy. The governing documents may also contain enforcement policies that the HOA board must follow.

 

2. Send a Warning Letter

HOA Violation Warning LetterAfter verifying the violation’s validity, board members might think holding a hearing is the next step in processing HOA violations. But, not all violations require a hearing. That’s because some violations are not as severe. A simple warning letter may be enough depending on the rule being broken and the resident’s violation history.

For example, let’s say the association limits the types of plants homeowners can have in their yards. But, a homeowner is unaware of this rule and decides to plant a prohibited flower. In this case, the HOA may issue a warning letter to ask them to correct their mistake. This allows the HOA to resolve the issue more peacefully without escalating minor violations.

 

3. Send an HOA Violation Notice

If the homeowner does not listen to the warning letter or the violation is serious, it’s time to take further action. Part of HOA violations processing involves holding a hearing. But, before the HOA can do this, the board must first issue a notice of violation.

The notification process may differ from association to association. Some states regulate the way notices are sent. For example, California’s Civil Code Section 5855 specifically states that homeowners associations must send a written notice to violators 10 days before a hearing. Meanwhile, other states have less formal regulations regarding violation notices. The HOA’s governing documents often dictate the notification method and timeline in these cases.

Regardless, sending a notice to homeowners will help them stay informed of their violations. It also gives them enough time to plan and adjust their schedule to attend the hearing.

 

4. Hold a Hearing

After sending the notice comes the HOA hearing process. This is simply a meeting between the offending resident and the HOA board. It aims to establish the violation’s validity and give the homeowner a chance to explain their side. Homeowners can then present reasonable arguments against the violation and present evidence that may affect the board’s final decision.

 

5. Make a Decision

After the hearing, the board must render a written decision within the timeframe outlined in the CC&Rs. Depending on how the hearing went, the board may determine that there was no violation after reviewing the homeowner’s evidence. But, they may issue HOA violation fines for non-compliance or if the homeowner doesn’t rectify the problem if the violation was found to be valid.

 

6. Appeal and Dispute Resolution

HOA Violation Appeal and Dispute Resolution

Once the decision is made, homeowners still have the right to appeal. This is usually determined by the HOA’s governing documents or state law. A homeowner may contest the decision because it is unreasonable or discriminatory. For example, one other resident may have committed the same offense but did not receive the same punishment.

On the other hand, the association may not have followed the proper procedure for sending notices or conducting hearings. As such, the HOA may need to reissue the notice with the right information within the proper time frame. They may need to undergo the process again.

HOA board members need to make decisions consistently and follow proper procedures. They must not decide arbitrarily or behave unreasonably when issuing notices or enforcing rules. Otherwise, this may waste the association’s time or cause more conflict.

In some states, homeowners associations can resolve disputes through arbitration or mediation. The process will include a mediation panel that can resolve the issue. Members can visit the American Arbitration Association website for resources and more information.

 

7. Suspend Rights and Privileges

If the homeowner refuses to pay the fees or comply with the decision, the HOA may suspend their rights and privileges. This involves prohibiting them from using amenities like pools, gyms, or clubhouses. It may also involve suspending them from community events or revoking their voting privileges.

Suspending a homeowner’s rights and privileges can pressure them to comply with the HOA. It will push them to correct their violation and pay whatever fines they owe the association. Once they rectify the issue, the suspensions may be lifted, and they can enjoy their rights and privileges again.

 

8. Take Legal Action

Finally, the homeowners association may take legal action and file a lawsuit to force compliance. In certain cases, they may also place a lien on the homeowner’s property. Taking legal action should be a last resort as litigation is long, expensive, and can lead to negative feelings within the community. It is not something HOAs must decide on lightly.

Moreover, there may be certain caveats to taking legal action. For example, the homeowners association may be in trouble if the violation isn’t found to be completely valid. They may also be liable if they did not follow due process. The board should always consult their HOA attorney and management company before proceeding with litigation.

 

Creating a Peaceful Community

Following the proper HOA violation process is vital to creating a peaceful community. After all, the rules are there for a reason and can promote order within the neighborhood. Proper and unbiased rule enforcement can help maintain the community’s reputation, property values, and security. It can also foster a sense of trust in the HOA’s leadership.

Are you struggling with enforcing rules? Condo Manager can help. We offer industry-leading HOA management software for management companies and self-managed communities. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or get in touch with us online for a free demo!

 

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HOA Vendors: How To Select Vendors And End Contracts?

Choosing the right HOA vendors is vital to the community’s well-being. But, it can be hard to pick a contractor with the right experience and skills the community needs. Let’s take a look at the selection process to help your HOA choose a fitting vendor.

 

What Are HOA Vendors For?

Condo and homeowners associations exist to maintain property values and boost the community’s quality of life. To do this, they must hire vendors to maintain the neighborhood’s common areas and keep it aesthetically pleasing. The right vendors can keep facilities and amenities clean and in good condition.

 

What HOA Vendors Do Communities Need?

It takes a lot to run a planned community. As such, there are several HOA vendors communities need to hire. These include but are not limited to the following:

 

  • Landscaping Vendors. These vendors cover landscaping needs like caring for the lawn and outdoor facilities. It can also include the maintenance of sports surfaces and artificial grass.
  • Developers, Builders, and Engineers. These vendors can help HOAs with large repairs and projects.
  • Commercial Painting. These vendors paint and repair building interiors and exteriors.
  • hoa vendor request for proposalFencing, Entrances, and Security Services. These vendors help monitor and improve the community’s security.
  • Financial Management and Accounting. These contractors help HOAs with bookkeeping, budgeting, and other financial management tasks.
  • Collections and Legal Services. HOA vendors can assist associations with collecting HOA fees, outstanding dues, and closing fees.
  • Debris Removal and Tree Service. These contractors help clear fallen trees, remove debris, and prune mature trees.
  • Plumbing and Backflow Testing. These maintenance vendors repair and maintain drainage and plumbing systems.
  • Pressure Washing. These maintenance vendors clean and prepare exterior surfaces.
  • Gutter and Roofing Services. These maintenance vendors replace and replace gutter and roof systems.
  • HVAC Services. These maintenance contractors maintain, repair, and install heating, cooling, and insulation systems.
  • Waterproofing and Pool Services. These maintenance vendors repair and maintain pool systems and winterize them.
  • Snow Removal. These services clear walkways and roads of accumulated hail or snow.
  • Towing. These services tow stalled cars and clear accident sites.

 

These are but a few services a homeowners association might hire. Depending on the community’s needs, there are many more, like masonry and phone answering services.

 

Which Is Better: Employees or Independent Contractors?

Associations have two options when it comes to hiring help. They can choose between hiring a regular employee or an independent contractor. Full-time workers receive a regular salary and fulfill their tasks daily. For example, a self-managed HOA may want to hire an HOA manager or maintenance person full-time. Meanwhile, independent contractors are better at fulfilling large-scale tasks and projects.

Regular employees are often good for fulfilling smaller roles that require ongoing attention. But, they do have their disadvantages. That’s because employees get sick and need vacation days. In these scenarios, the HOA must temporarily hire part-time workers or contractors to fill the role.

Moreover, employees are slightly more complex to work with as the HOA must verify their legal residency. HOAs must also find good referrals and conduct background checks. As a result of these many caveats, communities often prefer to hire independent contractors over employees.

Independent contractors are what most people think of when talking about HOA vendors. HOAs prefer these over employees because they have niche skills and years of industry experience. They are also licensed, insured and are less likely to become liabilities to the association.

Moreover, they’re not as complicated to hire as less paperwork is needed. HOAs only need to provide form 1099 to the vendor. They also do not need to report their status or activities as much to the IRS. Some examples of independent contractors include landscapers, roofers, and HOA attorneys.

 

How to Hire HOA Contractors

Communities should not randomly hand out an HOA vendor request for proposal to every contractor they find. That’s because doing so can confuse the HOA board and give them too many proposals to sift through. Instead, HOAs should carefully consider various factors to choose the right vendor.

 

1. Keep It in Writing

Contracts should never be verbal. Instead, HOAs should carefully draft and review contracts when choosing a vendor. All of the terms, including the work to be performed, its duration, and the price, must be written in an agreement. This will eliminate confusion and discrepancies between the vendor and HOA.

 

2. Obtain Vendor Bids

Homeowners associations should obtain at least three vendor bids from third-party contractors. This allows the HOA to compare the terms and choose the vendor that offers the right price and services. It gives the association a good idea of the value these services provide.

Moreover, multiple states have laws that require HOAs to receive more than one bid. Hence, it’s generally better to obtain multiple bids. Otherwise, the HOA may risk breaking their local laws.

 

3. Review Each Bid

HOA vendors may be tempted to add various beneficial services to their unnecessary proposals. Hence, it’s important to review each bid and ensure the offering matches your request. If the bid has extra services that the HOA may need later on, ask the vendor to provide a separate bid for them. Moreover, ask if the bid expires so the HOA board can deliberate further.

 

4. Ask for References

HOAs should ask the vendor for references from past clients. This can help the association understand what kind of experience the vendor provides. It’s also a good idea to ask for before-and-after photo references of past projects. These may help the homeowners association see what kind of output they can expect. Finally, HOAs can also look at online reviews left by past customers.

 

5. Verify Credentials, Insurance, and Licenses

hoa contractorsReliable vendors will usually provide licensing and bonding proof to reassure their clients. Otherwise, homeowners associations should ask for these documents to prove that the vendor is qualified. This is crucial as credentials may determine how well the vendor performs. Moreover, it’s especially important for tasks that require technical skills, such as property development or engineering.

Apart from this, HOAs should also prioritize organization and transparency. Remember to keep all the documentation you receive from rejected bids. That’s because these will prove the association’s due diligence in fulfilling its fiduciary duty to maintain the community.

 

6. Choose the Right Price

HOAs often fall into the trap of simply settling for the lowest bidder, but this would be a mistake as the lowest price doesn’t guarantee the best quality. Instead, homeowners associations should choose bids that offer the best value for the money. The best one may be the cheapest or most expensive. However, the best value bid is usually somewhere in the middle.

 

7. Schedule a Meeting

Once the HOA has narrowed down its options, it’s time to schedule a meeting. This is especially crucial for new vendors the community has never worked with. Moreover, it’s important for larger tasks and projects.

Pay attention to how the vendor’s staff carries themselves during the meeting. You want vendors that are forthcoming, punctual, and professional. They should also be ready with all the licenses, references, and insurance you requested.

 

How to End HOA Vendor Contracts

Homeowners associations may want to end vendor relationships that don’t work well, so how should they go about this? Here are some things to keep in mind.

 

1. Talk to the Contractor

HOAs usually develop long-term relationships with their vendors. But, the relationship may deteriorate when vendors fail to perform their duties. It can also go south when they miss deadlines, unexpectedly issue change orders, or do a poor job.

If the HOA has a long-standing relationship, it’s best to communicate with the vendor first. They might simply be undergoing financial difficulties or management changes. Both parties may be able to work out an agreement. This should be the first course of action to maintain vendor relationships.

 

2. Withhold Full Payment

Most contracts allow the homeowners association to withhold the final progress payment when the work is incomplete. This should prompt the vendor to complete their unfinished work. Once the work is completed, the board can finally assess the output before releasing the payment.

That said, HOAs should refrain from rehiring vendors that leave unfinished work. These vendors have already shown you how poorly they perform and how little they value the relationship. More often than not, it’s best to move on and find a new contractor.

 

3. Check the Contract Terms

form 1099When a vendor performs poorly and cannot be negotiated with, HOAs may want to terminate the agreement. But, are homeowners associations allowed to end vendor contracts for poor performance? Can they fire a vendor for a botched job?

It depends on the contract terms. HOAs should review the agreement and its provisions for termination. Some contracts allow termination due to poor performance. However, some do allow for termination without cause as long as there is a 30-day notice.

It’s also important to review the contract with an attorney. Otherwise, the HOA may end contracts illegally and have to face a lawsuit. Once reviewed with an attorney, the HOA can end the agreement according to the contract’s terms.

 

4. Document the Contractor’s Work

It can be hard to terminate a contract without mutual consent. The vendor may even sue the HOA for breach of contract. Hence, it’s important to document the vendor’s poor performance while the contract is ongoing. Document everything with photos and videos. Moreover, keep track of the dates, times, and staff involved. The HOA can use this as evidence during the lawsuit.

 

Choose HOA Vendors Wisely

Finding good HOA vendors can be tricky, and it’s certainly worth the effort. A reliable vendor can timely deliver high-quality work to homeowners associations. They’re invaluable to the community’s operations. Moreover, hiring the right vendor from the start can help the HOA avoid problems and potential lawsuits.

Condo Manager offers automated HOA management systems to HOA management companies, condo associations, and homeowners associations. Call us at 800-626-1267 or contact us online today for a free demo!

 

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HOA Residents Feeding Stray Cats? What Should The HOA Board Do?

Are your HOA residents feeding stray cats? While the intention behind it may be good, feeding strays can have bad repercussions. If your board encounters this problem, there are some recommended courses of action to take.

 

The Downsides of Residents Feeding Stray Cats

Cats can be very loving companions, making them a popular choice for pets, but not all cats have a place to call home. In fact, there are an estimated 41 million stray cats in the United States alone. Some of these cats are in shelters, but a good chunk of them are left to roam the streets. With such many stray cats, it would not be surprising if a few of them wandered into your HOA neighborhood.

When residents encounter stray cats, their first instinct may be to feed them. After all, who can resist the adorable meows of a hungry kitten? But, stray animal feeding, especially in an HOA, can have several consequences.

Here are the pitfalls of feeding stray cats in an HOA community.

 

1. They Might Overrun the Community

When you allow residents to feed stray cats, you’re basically painting the community into a corner. A habit of feeding strays will cause them to think that the HOA is a stable food source. This will push them to keep coming back to the community when they’re hungry, even bringing other wild animals and pests with them. Pretty soon, you’ll have an association infested with strays.

An HOA overrun with strays not only lowers curb appeal but can also lead to a host of other problems. These include a higher risk of diseases, pet injury, and property damage, which are discussed in the succeeding points.

 

rules on stray animals2. They Might Infect Pets With Diseases

Cute as they may be, stray cats can bring disease. Because strays don’t receive veterinary care, they often carry diseases that can be transferred to other animals. A lifetime of roaming dirty streets and interacting with other strays usually does that. If your community is home to many pets, their health and well-being can be jeopardized when introducing strays into the neighborhood.

 

3. They Might Get Into Fights With Pets

Diseases aren’t the only safety risk that stray cats can bring. Stray animals tend to be more aggressive, having had to fend for themselves all their lives. Thus, when encountering a resident’s pet, they can quickly go into fight mode, especially if competing for food.

 

4. They Might Damage Property

If you’ve ever kept a cat as a pet, you know they have a propensity for destroying valuables. Their sharp claws can tear through couches, rip up curtains or blinds, and shatter potted plants. Stray cats are no different. While you can somewhat protect the items inside your home by closing your windows, you can’t do the same for your garden plants and lawn furniture.

 

How to Keep Residents From Feeding Stray Cats

Homeowners associations have a duty to maintain curb appeal and preserve property values. When there are too many feral cats in the community — as a result of residents feeding stray cats — curb appeal and property values can quickly plummet. Resident satisfaction will also go down along with them. So how can an HOA board limit stray cats in the association? Is there even a way to prevent residents from feeding the strays?

Fortunately, an HOA does come equipped with certain powers, including the power to enforce rules. These rules can range from architectural standards to rental restrictions. An association can also have rules governing homeowners’ behavior, including feeding stray animals.

Here are some ways to prevent residents from feeding stray cats.

 

1. Explain That Pet Rules Don’t Apply to Strays

Some associations have a strict no-pets policy. This is more common among condo communities, where residents live in such close quarters, but you will also find this policy in some single-family communities. That said, many more communities allow residents to keep pets but with added restrictions. For instance, homeowners may be required to keep pets on a leash when outside and pick them up after them.

While stray cats are animals, they don’t fall under the definition of pets. As such, the HOA’s pet rules don’t apply to them. A resident may not feed a stray cat even if they keep it on a leash somewhere in the neighborhood. Additionally, residents may not keep stray animals on their property unless they decide to adopt them.

If a resident really wants to care for a stray cat, they can adopt it and provide it with proper veterinary care. Of course, this is under the assumption that the HOA even allows pets and that the resident does not violate the HOA’s pet policy. The association may also require the resident to complete certain forms per the pet rules. When they adopt the stray cat, the pet rules will then apply.

 

2. Adopt Rules and Levy Fines for Noncompliance

stray animal feedingIt is not enough to simply have rules regarding pets. An HOA board that wishes to limit stray cats in the community should also adopt rules on stray animals. A common rule is prohibiting residents from feeding the strays and avoiding any kind of interaction with them. Residents should resist the urge to feed the strays.

While an HOA can hope that the rules themselves curb stray animal feeding, many residents will still go against these rules. To prevent noncompliance, the board should also impose a fine system if it doesn’t already have one in place. Assuming state laws and the governing documents allow it, an HOA can fine an owner for feeding a stray after, provided that notice and an opportunity to be heard are given.

 

3. Encourage TNR Participation

One of the biggest problems with stray animals is that they can breed. When this happens, the number of strays in the community will inevitably increase.

An HOA should encourage residents to partake in a local trap-neuter-return (TNR) program to avoid this. In this program, stray cats are humanely trapped, sterilized to prevent breeding, and returned to the place where they were originally caught. This program controls the stray cat population and provides existing strays with basic veterinary care.

 

Taking Action

As you can see, there are several problems with residents feeding stray cats. If allowed to go on, such a practice can bring disease, pet injury, and property damage to your community. Before long, your association will be littered with strays. By adopting rules and communicating with residents, your HOA board can limit the number of strays in your neighborhood.

Condo Manager is the leading provider of HOA management software. Our software works for self-managed associations as well as HOA management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!

 

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9 Fun And Safe Activities For Senior Citizens In Your HOA

Part of what makes homeowners associations so enjoyable are the social activities that residents get to participate in. But the senior citizens in your HOA shouldn’t get left out of the fun.

 

Best Activities to Plan for Senior Citizens in Your HOA

HOA boards should do their best to get everyone involved in the community, even if it’s just participating in activities or attending events. One demographic that many associations neglect is senior citizens, except in communities that primarily consist of them.

Here are some fun yet appropriate activities for senior citizens in your HOA.

 

1. Tai Chi Mornings

Tai Chi in HOATai chi is not just a form of martial arts, but it is also good for the well-being of practitioners. It combines meditation with defense training and is known to have numerous health benefits. For instance, did you know that tai chi can help reduce pain in fibromyalgia patients? It can also help prevent falls and may help alleviate some symptoms of select chronic diseases.

Exercise is best performed in the morning when the sun isn’t too high up. Plus, most senior citizens get up early anyway. While you would ideally hold tai chi sessions outside, there’s no harm in doing it indoors if space is an issue. If you’re looking for activities for aging residents in your association, tai chi promotes exercise and good health and encourages senior neighbors to mingle.

 

2. Brisk Walking

Tai chi is excellent, but not all communities have access to large open spaces or a tai chi instructor. If you want something that will get the blood pumping (in a good way) but doesn’t require a lot of resources, try brisk walking. All you need for this activity is a walking trail. If you don’t have that, a simple walk around the neighborhood will do just as well.

As with tai chi, it’s best to hold this activity in the morning, though afternoon walks are good, too. With brisk walking, the elderly can spend some time outside, breathe in the fresh air, and catch up with each other. It’s also fast enough to get the heart rate up but not so fast that it’ll hurt their joints.

 

3. Moderate Dancing

When it comes to activities for senior citizens in your community, dancing usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. There are dances that are more suitable for seniors, too. These include ballroom dancing, jazz dancing, line dancing, the waltz, and dance aerobics. Of course, dance classes will require the help of an instructor.

 

4. Afternoon Tea

senior afternoon teaWho says activities should always have a dynamic component? Senior residents can have fun sitting around, having tea, and talking about anything.

Plan an afternoon tea session for your community’s elderly members. You can offer a variety of tea flavors and prepare a wide range of snacks — both sweet and salty. If senior residents don’t know each other well, prepare some talking points beforehand. They can find things in common, bond through shared experiences, and make meaningful connections.

Who knows? If all goes well, you can even make it a monthly thing!

 

5. Art Class

An art class is one of the more unique activities for senior citizens in your HOA. Everyone deserves to express themselves creatively, and what better way to do that than through art? After all, a person’s artistic side doesn’t fade just because they age.

You can stick with the classic drawing or painting session for art class. Alternatively, if you want to jazz things up, a sculpting or pottery class will undoubtedly attract a lot of attention (though it also requires more specialized resources). If you can’t afford an instructor, even a get-together where seniors make handicrafts can help reignite their passion for art.

 

6. Book Club

As the famous saying goes, “with age comes wisdom.” But living a long life isn’t the only way to open your mind and learn new things. Books are an excellent source of wisdom, too. Plus, they can be very entertaining and make you feel a diverse palette of emotions, from joy and despair to pain and excitement.

If you want to organize activities for senior citizens in your HOA, you can’t go wrong with a book club. Pick a book of the month that everyone in the club has to read. Then, members can get together at the end of each month and discuss their insights or feelings. You can even make it a weekly thing where members only read a set number of chapters weekly.

 

7. Bingo Nights

HOA bingo No list of activities for the elderly is complete without bingo night. Bingo is a fun game that helps keep the mind active and attentive. All you need to make it a success is a bingo set, plenty of bingo cards, and a large enough space. You can also prepare a prize for the winner to make the game worthwhile.

Virtual bingo nights are a good option if you don’t have a space large enough to accommodate everyone. Several websites offer online bingo events that you can organize for your community. If you want to do it the old-fashioned way (as is suitable for most seniors), you can mail them their bingo cards which they can manually fill out.

 

8. Karaoke Night

The fun doesn’t stop just because people get old. Senior residents also know how to have a good time, and a karaoke night is a can’t-miss. Again, you’ll need ample space for this if you expect to see plenty of attendees. You can either hire a live band or rent a karaoke machine. Participants can then come to the stage individually to sing their heart’s song.

While you can make it a competition by offering a prize to the best singer, it’s generally better to just focus on the fun. The goal is to get senior residents involved and have them mingle with each other. And encouraging rivalry doesn’t make for good bonding. You can follow your HOA’s noise rules to avoid creating a nuisance.

 

9. Senior-Friendly Parties

If none of these activities seem a good fit for your HOA, you can always stick to the tried-and-tested party. Parties or simple social gatherings are great because they gather seniors under the same roof. You can make a nice spread, play music, and even organize a few games. Just remember to make them all senior-friendly!

 

Spice Things Up for Seniors

activities for seniors inside the neighborhoodIf senior citizens are in your HOA, making them feel just as valued and loved as other community members is essential. Seniors usually no longer work jobs, so they have much free time. Add a little color and fun to their life in the association by holding one or more of these events.

Condo Manager provides software solutions to HOAs and management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!

 

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What Does An HOA Contingency Mean?

Before buying a home or condo in a planned community, looking for an HOA contingency is essential. But what is a contingency anyway? And is it mandatory in every real estate sale?

 

What Is an HOA Contingency?

An HOA contingency is a clause or condition that allows a buyer to break the contract within a specific time frame without suffering losses. It is a type of real estate contingency that protects a buyer from having to push through with a home sale based on the status of an HOA or condo association. In other words, if a buyer finds out that the home they want to purchase belongs to an HOA with poor reserve funding, the contingency would allow them to back out of the sale. Other real estate contingencies include home inspections, appraisals, financing, and home sale contingencies.

 

The Role of an HOA Contingency in the Home Sale Process

When a buyer comes across a home or condo unit they like, the usual response is to put in an offer. But, at this stage, buyers typically still need more information on the house before they place an offer.

homeowners association contingencyCan the buyer back out of the home sale contract?

The home sale process begins if a buyer’s offer is accepted. In most cases, buyers will have to enter an agreement with the seller at this point. Further down the line, the seller or agent must provide the buyer with HOA disclosures. These are the pertinent documents relevant to the association, such as governing documents, financial statements, and meeting minutes.

The buyer’s agreement with the seller should have contingencies written into it, including a homeowners association contingency. With such a contingency present, the prospective buyer then has the option of pulling out of buying a house if they dislike the HOA managing the community. Of course, buyers should perform their due diligence and review the disclosures given. This way, they will know whether or not the HOA is the right fit for them.

 

Is an HOA Contingency Mandatory?

Given how vital HOA contingencies are, they are mandatory in all home sale transactions. But the truth is far from it. Not all home sale transactions have them, resulting in many buyers losing their earnest money deposit.

There are select states that require HOA contingencies by law. Virginia is one that immediately comes to mind. According to Section 55.1-1808, purchasers may cancel the contract within three days (up to 7 days if the ratified contract extends the period) after receiving an HOA disclosure packet. Virginia law even goes so far as to give the purchaser the ability to cancel the contract as a sole remedy if a disclosure packet is not produced.

Prospective buyers should ensure that their agreement with the seller includes an HOA contingency clause. Requesting HOA documents and financial statements can also take time. As such, sellers should do this early to give buyers enough time to review the documents and cancel the contract within the deadline. For extra precaution, prospective buyers can access the governing documents of an HOA through public records.

 

Why Homeowners Should Review the HOA Documents

Buying a condo or home in an HOA means automatically becoming a member of that association. Usually, membership is mandatory upon purchase, though there are rare cases of voluntary HOA membership. And while living in an HOA does have its benefits, not all associations are made equal. Some are in bad shape. And it is nearly impossible to know what condition an HOA is in before placing an offer on a home.

When you review the disclosures, though, you might find that one or more of the following are true:

 

1. You Dislike the Rules

Buying a home in an HOA allows an owner to abide by the community’s rules and regulations. The problem is that you might only agree with some of them. One well-known rule is that owners must pay regular dues to the association. These dues then fund the HOA’s expenses, which can include insurance costs, maintenance fees, landscaping costs, etc.

There are also other rules, of course. Many associations, for instance, prohibit owners from renting out their homes or parking certain vehicles in the driveway. It is also not unheard of for an HOA to have restrictions on pets or ban them entirely.

The most common point of contention is an HOA’s architectural rules. Homeowners associations are known for enforcing strict architectural standards in the community, and this is to help maintain consistency, curb appeal, and property values. But, if you’re the type of homeowner who likes to paint your house whatever color you want or make additions to your home exterior every once in a while, then an HOA may not be a good fit for you.

Without an HOA contingency clause, you might sign into a corner and be forced to adhere to rules you disagree with. And it’s like you can only break those rules if you wish, as violations often carry monetary penalties.

 

2. There Is a Lack of Financial Planning and Stability

Like any corporation, a homeowners association runs on revenue and pays for expenses. As such, a considerable amount of financial planning, accounting, and budgeting is involved. Unfortunately, not all associations are adept at this aspect of community management.

Once you get a hold of the association’s financial records, you might find its funds poorly mismanaged. Its financial statements may always be red, and delinquencies may be at an all-time high. And you want to avoid buying into a community that may soon fall apart, financially speaking.

This is also why requesting a copy of the association’s reserve studies and report is a good idea. The reserve fund is a contingency when an HOA needs significant repairs and replacements. Without a properly funded reserve account, the association will have to levy hefty special assessments against owners once its assets reach the end of their useful life.

 

3. Board Members Don’t Know What They’re Doing

hoa contingencies

Lastly, when you review the association’s meeting minutes, you see how the board manages the community. If you find the board painfully inept at leading the association, you should reconsider purchasing. For instance, it is a huge red flag the board is not following the HOA’s rules or procedures. Inconsistent enforcement is another thing to watch out for.

 

Protect Yourself With a Contingency

All in all, an HOA contingency serves as a means of protection for prospective buyers. Without it, you might find yourself locked into an agreement or lose a sizable deposit for backing out of the sale. A contingency allows you to terminate the contract without penalty if the HOA doesn’t suit your taste or meet your expectations.

Condo Manager provides automated HOA management solutions to communities and management companies. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo!

 

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What Is An HOA Attorney? When Do You Need One?

Homeowners associations can run into all sorts of legal problems and liability. Rather than attempting to resolve these issues on their own, associations will benefit from hiring an HOA attorney.

 

What Is an HOA Attorney?

An HOA attorney is simply an attorney who has experience or specializes in dealing with homeowners associations. Believe it or not, there are many legal issues that associations can encounter. These can range from Fair Housing disputes to homeowner lawsuits. And an attorney can greatly help manage all of these.

 

hoa attorneyWhat Does an HOA Attorney Do?

An attorney can perform a plethora of responsibilities, from reviewing documents to advising the board. But, it can still depend on the types of services an association ends up paying for. That said, here are the ways an HOA attorney can be of service.

 

1. Interpret the Law and the Governing Documents

Homeowners associations are typically led by volunteer members of the community. More often than not, these members don’t have sufficient legal experience, which can result in a variety of legal violations.

A homeowners association attorney can help HOA boards interpret both the law and the HOA’s governing documents. There are many federal laws that apply to homeowners associations, and even more at the state and local levels. As such, it is best to seek an attorney who practices in the state where the HOA is located.

 

2. Create New Policies and Amend Governing Documents

Board members will sometimes craft new rules or policies to help keep the community in good shape. Other times, they will need to amend the governing documents to change existing rules. Either way, there is a lot of legalese to get through, and an attorney can help draft and review all of these changes. An attorney can also make sure that new policies or amendments don’t conflict with any laws or existing provisions.

 

3. Collect Unpaid Dues

hoa lawyerIn HOA communities, homeowners pay regular dues to the association. Unfortunately, no HOA is immune to the occasional (or frequent) delinquency here and there. An HOA board can’t allow delinquencies to pile up without taking action as it is unfair to paying homeowners. Moreover, without the needed cash inflow, the association won’t be able to pay for expenses.

An HOA attorney can help with dues collection, too. Associations will often refer the delinquent account to an attorney. Associations can also file lawsuits against the homeowner or place a lien on the property. This can even lead to foreclosure proceedings, which an attorney can also assist with.

 

4. Represent the Association in Litigation

It is best to resolve any disputes internally. As much as possible, HOA boards should avoid going to court because it is a time-consuming and costly process. Additionally, it could create more bad blood between the board and the homeowners in the community. Not to mention, media coverage may paint the HOA in a bad light.

When a case does go to court, though, the association will need an attorney to represent it. An attorney will not only defend the association or the HOA board in court but will also take care of the entire legal process. This includes gathering supporting evidence and going through discovery. Of course, one thing that every HOA board should have is D&O insurance. This coverage will reduce the financial burden on the association when directors and officers are sued.

 

5. Provide Legal Advice to the Board

Even when the board isn’t creating new policies, collecting delinquencies, or going to court, HOA attorneys still provide a lot of value. At the bare minimum, an attorney can offer expert advice on legal matters concerning the association. If a board member has a question about something that may put the HOA in legal jeopardy, they can easily refer to their attorney. When in doubt, seeking legal advice from an HOA attorney is always best.

 

How to Hire an HOA Lawyer

When looking for an attorney for your association, there are a few considerations to make. First of all, you must evaluate your needs. Understand what services your association requires or desires. Smaller associations don’t tend to have a huge need for legal counsel because legal issues are few and far between. However, larger associations might face legal issues more often.

homeowners association attorneySecondly, you must consider your budget. Lawyer fees can vary greatly, and the more well-known firms will obviously charge more. Make sure to check your budget to see how much your association can spend on an attorney.

Finally, you must take reputation into account. An attorney who has a bad reputation or who has faced issues with clients before is definitely not someone you want to hire. Attorneys deal with a lot of issues and information, and most of them are confidential. Thus, you must seek an honest attorney you can trust.

After considering all the above, the next step is to look for an attorney that fits your matrix. If your association employs an HOA management company, they will likely already have attorneys at their disposal. If not, they might have established relationships with third-party law firms. Your HOA can then seek a recommendation.

You can also check out your local chapter of the Community Associations Institute (CAI). They may have a list of attorneys who practice or specialize in community association law. Beyond that, you can do a quick search online or ask friends and family for recommendations.

 

The Benefits Are Clear

An HOA attorney performs a wide range of responsibilities. Unless you have an experienced lawyer on your board, it is best to seek professional help when it comes to legal matters. You can either hire an HOA management company with an in-house legal team or hire an attorney from a firm or independently. Either way, an attorney will most certainly add value to your community.

Condo Manager provides automated HOA management solutions to homeowners associations and condominiums. We also have software designed specifically for HOA management companies. Call us today at 800-626-1267 or contact us online to schedule a free demo!

 

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Condominium Repairs: Who Is Responsible? Condo Owners Or The COA

Condominium repairs are an inevitable part of condo ownership. But, not all elements of a condo unit fall under the responsibility of the owner. Sometimes, the condo association is on the hook for maintenance and repairs.

 

Who Is Responsible for Condominium Repairs?

Purchasing a condo usually comes with automatic membership into a condo association. Condo owners will then need to follow the association’s rules, including the owner’s obligation to carry out condo maintenance. Some maintenance and repair work, though, don’t fall under the responsibility of the owner and, instead, fall under the responsibility of the association.

This is where most condo owners become confused. What types of repairs are the condo association responsible for? And what repairs are the owners responsible for?

It goes without saying that an owner is responsible for their own personal items and belongings. For instance, if the refrigerator malfunctions, the owner has to pay for the repairs or replacements themselves. Most of the confusion lies with the structure of the condo itself. For things like walls, flooring, and balconies, will the owner be on the hook for maintenance or will it fall to the condo association?

 

Understanding Regulations

what repairs are condo owners responsible forThe first place owners should check is state and local laws. There may be existing laws that govern condo associations and the condominium repairs they are responsible for.

For example, according to the Washington Condominium Act, the association is in charge of maintaining and repairing the common elements (including limited common elements), while owners are in charge of their individual units.

The problem with laws like this, though, is that they are often very general. For more specific guidelines, owners should look to their condo association’s governing documents. The bylaws and CC&Rs, in particular, will usually contain language describing the maintenance responsibilities of the association and the owners. Because these provisions can differ from one condo to another, there is no universal rule that applies to all condos equally.

That being said, the burden of responsibility usually depends on where the element is located. The association typically bears responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of exterior structures and elements. Conversely, owners typically bear responsibility for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of interior structures and elements.

 

Condominium Repairs Under the COA’s Responsibility

Living in a community managed by a condo association comes with many perks. In addition to gaining access to exclusive amenities, owners also benefit from maintenance and repairs. Of course, these amenities and services do come with condo fees.

Generally speaking, the elements that fall under the association’s scope of responsibility include:

  • The structure of the condo
  • Exterior lighting such as parking lot lighting, floodlighting, etc.
  • The roof of the condo, including the gutters and shingles
  • Exterior sidings and features of the condo
  • All shared amenities such as clubhouses, pools, and office buildings
  • Walkways, trails, and sidewalks

As for balconies and terraces, it really depends on the association’s governing documents. If all of the units have balconies and terraces, then the responsibility will likely fall on the association.

 

What Repairs Are Condo Owners Responsible For?

More often than not, maintenance and repairs for the interior of the condo units fall on the shoulders of individual owners. This is favorable to condo owners because it means the association does not have a say in how owners layout or decorate the inside of their units.

Generally speaking, the elements that fall under the owner’s scope of responsibility include:

  • All interior fixtures such as interior walls, flooring, and lighting
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Appliances

Sometimes, a component may not be specified in the governing documents. In this case, it may be worth referring to the community plat. The plat will usually reflect whether a particular component, like an attic or basement, is a common element or otherwise.

 

Exterior Issues That Cause Internal Damages

Sometimes, problems with the exterior of the condominium will seep into the interiors of condo units. For example, a leak in the roof might cause water damage inside an owner’s unit. In that case, who is responsible — the owner or the condo association?

While this can vary from one condo to another, the association is generally responsible for fixing the leaky roof, while the owner is responsible for repairing any damages to the inside of their condo. This is why condo insurance is such an integral part of condo ownership, as it can reduce the financial burden on owners in these cases.

If the above condo unit is the source of the water damage, the condo association bears no responsibility. In this case, the two condo owners (the one who owns the above unit and the one who owns the below unit) have to settle the damages between themselves. Typically, it means one of the owners’ insurance providers will cover the cost of the repairs.

 

The Importance of Condo Insurance

condo maintenance, condo repairsIt is imperative that all condo owners purchase and maintain their own condo insurance policy. This is similar to homeowners insurance in that condo insurance protects the owner’s personal belongings and covers damages to the interior of the unit.

The exact coverage and deductibles of condo insurance will depend on the type of policy the owner gets. It is wise, though, to purchase a policy that covers perils such as natural disasters, internal issues, and theft.

Condo associations usually have a master policy for the association itself, but this policy doesn’t extend to individual owners. As such, many condo associations require owners to maintain a policy of their own.

Owners should remember that condo insurance is not the solution to all their problems. If damage happens because of a covered risk, then the insurance provider will cover the cost of the loss. However, it’s not uncommon for insurance providers to investigate claims. And, if the provider determines that the owner caused the damage, then the provider can deny the claim. This will leave the owner to pay for the damages out of pocket.

 

The Bottom Line

It is easier to discern maintenance responsibilities in a planned community consisting of detached homes. But, for condominiums with many shared elements, it can get quite complex. Thankfully, associations normally have detailed provisions for condominium repairs outlined in their governing documents. Owners and board members can then refer to these documents for guidance.

Tracking maintenance and violations can be a source of pain for many condo communities. Condo Manager simplifies the job with sophisticated software. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo.

 

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Does Your HOA Need Covenant Revitalization?

Homeowners associations in many states will have to go through covenant revitalization at one point or another. It is important for board members to familiarize themselves with this process to avoid lapses in authority.

 

Covenant Revitalization: Do HOA Covenants Expire?

An HOA covenant is essentially a contract or agreement that homeowners associations enter into with its members. These covenants govern how the community operates, the responsibilities of board members, and the obligations of homeowners. In essence, covenants are the rules of the community, though they differ from operating rules. And, similar to other contracts, covenants do have a shelf life.

In a lot of states, HOA covenants that are more than 30 years old expire. When an association allows its covenants to expire, it can give rise to a wide range of problems for both the HOA board and the community as a whole.

This is where HOA covenant revitalization comes in. Covenant revitalization is a process that reinstates or revives the covenants of a homeowners association. It essentially restores the old covenants and makes it as if no lapse had transpired at all.

 

What Happens When HOA Covenants Expire?

Homeowners associations operate with the authority given to them by state laws and the declaration of covenants found within their governing documents. When covenants expire, they are no longer enforceable. This means that the homeowners association basically ceases to exist, and board members don’t have the power to collect dues, enforce the rules, or make any decisions. The entire community will fall into disarray, with no governing body managing the common areas or making sure everything goes smoothly. In the end, property values will plummet, and it is the homeowners who will bear the consequences.

 

How to Revitalize HOA Covenants

The process of revitalizing HOA covenants can vary from one state to another. Homeowners associations must refer to their state’s Department of Community Affairs for the full step-by-step process of covenant revitalization. As a guide, though, the entire procedure typically consists of the following steps:

  1. Propose the revitalization of the HOA covenants.
  2. Obtain majority approval from the membership to proceed with covenant revitalization.
  3. Submit the newly revitalized governing documents to the appropriate state department or agency.

The specifics of the process can differ depending on where the HOA is located. For instance, Florida law requires that at least three unit owners propose the revitalization of the HOA covenants. After that, the association must disseminate the proposed covenant revitalization to all members and have a meeting. A notice of the meeting must also be properly distributed.

The law in Florida also requires HOAs to get a court reporter or attorney to certify proof of notice of the meeting. Then, within 60 days of securing a majority vote from the membership, an HOA must submit the proposed governing documents to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity.

On the other hand, some states allow associations to “preserve” their existing covenants and avoid the revitalization process. Typically, this only applies to covenants that are less than 30 years old.

As with many things, homeowners associations would be wise to hire an attorney for help with this matter. Similarly, an HOA management company can help associations go through the process.

 

Can You Change HOA Covenants During the Revitalization Process?

Sometimes, a homeowners association will want to update HOA covenants during the revitalization process. While this is technically possible, HOAs should still refer to the specific rules of their state or ask an attorney for guidance. They must also follow the proper amendment procedures outlined in their governing documents.

Taking Florida as an example once more, the law states that the new covenant can’t consist of more restrictive covenants than the old one. This means the new covenant must contain the same number of covenants as the one before, though there are a few exceptions. These exceptions include:

  • The new declaration may have a longer term.
  • Homeowners associations can remove restrictions from the old declaration.
  • The new covenant can govern fewer homes or units than the old one.
  • The new declaration can consist of new amendments.

 

How to Amend HOA Covenants

While the process for amending HOA covenants may not be the same for all associations, it generally consists of the following steps:

 

HOA covenant revitalization1. Review and Draft the Amendment

The first thing a board should do is review its existing documents and draft the proposed amendment. This will typically require the help of an attorney to figure out the language and make sure the amendment does not conflict with other covenants.

 

2. Distribute Amended Documents

The board should then distribute the proposed amendment to the members of the community. They can do this via email or include it in the newsletter or post it to the community website (whatever the governing documents stipulate). Communicating the proposed amendment ensures that all homeowners know of the impending change.

 

3. Schedule a Meeting

Once owners have had the chance to review the change, the board should then schedule a public hearing of sorts. This should, of course, come with proper notice of the meeting. During the meeting, homeowners can voice their feedback and concerns about the amendment.

 

4. Make Suggested Changes

An HOA board should not just schedule a public hearing for the sake of it. Board members should listen to homeowner input and seriously take them into consideration. Then, they can make adjustments to the new amendment based on feedback from the homeowners. Again, this will require the help of an attorney.

 

5. Vote and Adopt

Typically, amendments to the bylaws or covenants will require a majority vote from the membership to be approved. Operating rules, on the other hand, will only usually need the board’s vote.

 

revitalizing HOA covenants6. Disseminate and Educate

Once the amendment has passed, the board should disseminate the information and educate homeowners about what the amendment entails. It is good to have a Q&A portion at the next board meeting to clear up any misunderstandings. Alternatively, homeowners can reach out to the board via email, text, or phone (if possible). Many boards prefer not to be bothered by phone calls and emails, so they outsource the job of homeowner communication to an HOA management company.

 

A Part of Board Education

For many homeowners associations, covenants have a limited span of life. Covenant revitalization prevents HOAs from losing their authority and bridges the gap between the old and the new. As such, board members should make it a part of their ongoing education to learn about this critical process.

Condo Manager provides software solutions to both homeowners associations and HOA management companies alike. Call us today at (800) 626-1267 or contact us online for a free demo.

 

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